How Reusable Bags Can Lead to Even Greener Behavior

These days, green is where it’s at. If you want customers to take your seriously and business partners to be interested in your product, they need to know you’re not harming an already overtaxed environment.

Reusable bags present a good option for many. They’re attractive, they’re durable, they’re endlessly customizable … and most importantly, they’re eco-friendly. And reusable bags are a win for your business in another important way: They do your marketing for you, often without you even knowing it. Would you be surprised to learn that custom printed bags receive an average of 5,938 impressions each throughout their lifetime? That’s almost 6,000 people who see each bag your customers carry out of your store.

Big stuff.

But it turns out reusable bags may be important in another way as well. A recent study shows that reusable bags may influence buyers’ behavior much more than you thought.

Reusable Bags Encourage Impulse Buys

According to a study published in the American Marketing Association’s Journal of Marketing entitled “BYOB: How Bringing Your Own Shopping Bags Leads to Treating Yourself and the Environment,” bringing plastic bags actually measurably alters consumers’ purchasing behavior.

As you might expect, having reusable bags on hand makes customers act more environmentally when it comes to their purchases: They seek out a greater degree of eco-friendly organic food. However, fascinatingly, purchasers also bought more junky foods such as cookies and potato chips as well.

This behavior is known as licensing, Harvard Business School’s Uma Karmarkar told Forbes: “When someone makes what they would consider a virtuous choice, such as bringing the reusable bag, or buying organic food, it can also cause them to feel entitled to indulge in another area.”

In other words, when shoppers have reusable bags in hand, they are significantly more likely to splurge. And that, we believe, can make it even easier for you to protect the environment.

A Win for the World

Reusable bags are an excellent way to fight global warming (because plastic and paper in landfills contribute to greenhouse gases) and reduce trash. In 2003, there were an estimated 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags heading to landfill every year, says National Geographic. Due to crackdowns on plastic use, that number has been curbed, but the switch to paper isn’t necessarily a good thing. Paper also emits greenhouse gases in landfill, and is rarely reused, just like plastic. Plus, it’s made from trees, which often aren’t a renewable resource.

Reusable bags, on the other hand, are often made from environmentally friendly materials such as jute, which is renewable, or leather, which is a byproduct of other industries.

Plus, they come in all shapes and sizes: one-bottle bags are perfect for a single special bottle, while four-bottle bags make a great addition to a picnic or concert in the park. Of course, if your customers are heading out your doors with enough libations to get them through a special dinner or party, you might want to point them to the six-bottle totes.

Reusable bags not only prevent trash from going to landfill, they save cities lots of money. A 2013 National Center for Policy Analysis estimate, for instance, shows that San Francisco would save $900,000 dollars a year if it didn’t have to collect and dispose of plastic bags, and 8.49 million if it didn’t have to deal with paper either.

So yes, reusable is better.

Make the Splurge Green

How should you use it to your advantage and the environment’s? Well, we contend that you can catch shoppers in a splurging mood … and direct them toward even more green actions. Instead of filling your tasting room with one-off plastic cups and glasses, use branded glassware instead. Customers then have the choice of using your glasses, which they can leave behind when they’re done with, or buying them themselves to start a collection. This can prevent them from breaking out disposable plastic glasses at their own parties; green for you, green for the world.

Or you can offer wine charms. Considering that washing a single dish should use about 9.5 ounces of water, think about how much water you could save if people didn’t lose glasses at a party! If you saved even one glass from being washed in each household in America on a Saturday night, that would be more than 1,170 gallons of water saved. Whoa! Who knew wine charms could be such an environmental boon?

Or consider wooden cutting boards. Selling quality bamboo cutting boards saves trees from being cut down, are made of a renewable resource, and are an excellent substitute for cheap plastic.

How to Attract Shoppers When They’re in a Buying Mood

Okay, so you know you want to help customers help the environment. You’ve got yours in a buying mood, because they always come to your winery or brewery armed with their branded reusable bags and ready to carry home more of your excellent wares. What now? Here are a few ideas for setting up an excellent display:

#1 Keep Green Items in a Central Location

If you want shoppers to see everything you have to offer, grouping works well. That way, when they’re already checking out a display, they can see everything else you have to offer.

#2 Place Displays Near High-Traffic Areas

It also helps to place your displays near where shoppers will be walking and standing. In a tasting room, for instance, you might put them near the register, in the center of the room, and by the tasting stations.

#3 Clue Shoppers In

Consumers love doing the green thing, so why not tell them? If your products are reusable and sustainable, say so on display tags or signs. It will encourage the green-minded to do the right thing.

Next time you’re wondering what else you can do to help the environment, consider offering even more reusable bag choices to encourage shoppers, as well as other environmentally friendly wares. Every little bit helps.